Problem: Students face a variety of adaptation challenges when they go to a foreign country to pursue their education. Issues regarding social interaction, cultural differences and various types of stress caused by homesickness.
Solution: The solution proposed is a mobile application which serves as a personal assistant with both voice and chat UI. Users can search places, ask questions, meet new people and learn more about different cultures to have an overall better college experience.
Timeline: 2 Months
My Role: As a designer I conducted extensive research into the university student community in the form of surveys, observations, and interviews. After we defined our main features, I created user flow, wireframes, high-fidelity UI and an interactive prototype for usability testing.
In our research, we interviewed several students, conducted online survey and observations to examine the life of the international students and identifying their needs and the factors that influence their academic, social and cultural transition in the U.S. We wanted answers to questions such as:
We interviewed eight international students from different countries studying various fields at Indiana University. Most of the students said that they faced problems in finding accomodation, preffered food, bank account, SIM card, license etc. There seemed to be a lack of information about local events and activities.
Observations were conducted in different environments to identify problems which students face everyday but don’t usually notice or talk about. The findings showed that the students were not familiar with the communication norms and faced difficulty understanding local slang and various american references.
We had divided the survey in mainly 5 sections. General Information, Experiences, Cultural differences, Technology and Attitude. When asked what what were the major problems they faced, 31% of respondents cited general living while 12% pointed to academic. This data helped us in taking a lot of informed decisions.
We brought together our individual research data and created broad or high level themes into which the major challenges faced by the students fell under. The major themes were:
Getting accomodation, bank accounts, mobile connection, transportation, insurances, credit cards, driving license etc.
making friends, going out for events, understanding local culture & slang, restaurants, food, festivals etc.
Feeling homesick, loneliness, boredom, isolation and stressed due to various problems & challenges
Classroom learning difficulty due to lack of English proficiency and managing time to do the assignments
To get an in-depth analysis of the qualitative research data we used Affinity diagramming. This session helped us in categorizing and prioritizing the data of problems, issues and challenges the students faced.
Listing Affinity notes according to issues
Categorizing Affinity notes into different themes
We created Personas to represent a user group who face a similar problems. This gave us a clear picture of the user's expectations and how they would like to use a product.
"English being my second language I don't feel very confident about it due to which I tend to participate less in group projects, discussions and collaborative work. Also, I love dancing but don't know where could I find a dance group or event in this city."
"After coming to the US my first priority is to get the basic steps done such as finding a house, local mobile connection, bank account, university formalities etc. I feel confused about where to start and constantly look for help from other people."
We took the main features from affinity diagramming session and realized that many shortlisted features were too broad or out of scope for this project. We prioritized the list & while mapping them it appeared that some of the requirements were interconnected or interlinked.
The goal was to take the ideas we’ve generated in the brainstorming sessions and sketch an actual use case and user scenario on how a user would move through this part of the story. Finally after the storyboards we were able to decide which functionality suits most for our scope and serves best to the users.
After brainstorming and storyboarding sessions, we finally decided on a suitable solution for our problem space and what features or functionality will it possess.
Designing for the user experience began from sketching out a typical user journey based on the accomplishment of specific tasks within the app. Once the user journey had been established, the team began to unpack the design flow for general and specific use cases.
Based on the main features and task flow of our platform, we created initial sketches & wireframes of our prototype with the following user flows: User Onboarding, Gang Chat, Voice & Chat UI & Play feature. We used Balsamiq as the tool for Low-Fidelity prototyping the app.
We started desiging high fidelity prototypes by creating a style guide for the user interface and finally designed the major screens of the app which are shown below.
Users can login using touch id and voice password in addition to email and password. To Signup users can either use existing email account and enter details or create voice password or create touch id for a fast and secure login in the application.
Users can choose tasks which they want to accomplish from an exisitng list or they can add their own task if that is missing. Users can also select their interests to get personalized suggestions and notifications.
After the user selects the gangs according to their tasks or interests they can start connecting with the people in that group. Users can also create new public or private gangs if they want and add other people in their contact list.
Users can create events in any gang and share with other members. The events will be synced with their calenders and will recieve notifications and reminders. Users can see details like date, time, people going etc about the event and can respond with Yes, No or Maybe.
The app asks user if he/she wants to play a game based on the information it provided and asks a small quiz and allows usersto earn rewards. We plan to provide coupons of different restaurants, stores and other events in future.
We conducted user testing & cognitive walkthroughs to find out usability issues in the interface of the app. Most of the users found the application user friendly and could easily navigate between the screens. They faced some trouble in understanding the Voice and Chat UI together but after getting acquainted with the functions after the first time they could interact effectively. There were some problems in Login & interest/task selection which we can improved by adding tutorials and tooltips in the onboarding process.
Due to the time constraints, we were only able to do a minimal viable product. With more time, these are some features that we would like to add:
Points which are not covered in this case study but could be worth discussing in person:
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© Designed & Coded by Rahul Jain